Book Review: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
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You’re probably asking yourself, “Why is this woman reviewing a book that’s three decades old and one in which everybody has some general knowledge?” Well, let me tell you. We were discussing our love languages in Bible Fellowship a while back and I realized that, while I had some general ideas and I was pretty sure I’d done some quiz on them, I’d never really read the book. Also, I knew what the love languages were but I wasn’t 100% certain where I fell in the spectrum. I knew that we often express love in the way we would like to receive it which, in theory, would make my love language “gifts” but that didn’t seem to fit me so I decided to figure it out once and for all.
As you can tell by now, I’ve gotten on a relational, self-help, psychology book kick and this one seemed as useful as any because we show love to all those around us and better understanding how we can do that could only help our relationships. I always find it fascinating how humans, regardless of culture or time period, have some processes innately in us. According to Chapman’s research, the love languages seem to be universal which tells me this is an important concept.
If you’ve never heard of the languages, know that there are five of them. Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. These I already knew from other articles and books I had read but what I didn’t understand until reading this book is that within those languages there are different dialects which is fascinating and confusing. Chapman gave example after example of couples he has counseled who spent all of their marriage feeling unloved or unappreciated when in reality they just weren’t speaking the same language as their spouse. You can scream “Je t’aime beaucoup!” at your husband for the next fifty years but if he doesn’t speak French you’re beating your head against a brick wall and love languages work the same way.
I chose to read the original book which is geared more towards couples because it’s the one I had on hand but there are now versions for all kinds of life stages and relationships, though the concepts are still generally the same. I would also highly recommend at least taking the love languages quiz so you are aware of your own processing. As I said earlier, from the outside, it would look like gift giving would be pretty high on the list for me because I love giving gifts but what I realized through understanding these concepts is that my love of gift giving stems more from the expression of thoughtfulness towards someone else which is why I am so specific about the gifts I give. Also, as a people pleasing Enneagram 2 much of my joy in gift giving may come from feeling it makes others happy. Truthfully, “receiving gifts” is my lowest category, receiving only one point out of twelve. I also came to understand that I’m what Chapman calls “bilingual” meaning I have two categories that are essentially equal. All of this is helpful in understanding my own needs and how to help my loved ones understand those needs.
As I said with some of the other relationship books I’ve reviewed for Converse and Crowns, we all relate so differently, especially between men and women, so why wouldn’t you want to better understand those around you? Whether the Lord ever plans on me getting married is a question for the ages but I would be foolish to waste a season of learning about relating to others ESPECIALLY because all of these concepts translate to every other relationship we have in our lives. I want to love better, communicate better and process my own thoughts in a productive and God-honoring manner so bring on all the books!